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Updated August 10, 2017

Earn Airline Miles Without Flying

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Do you want to travel more? Well, guess what? There's an airline miles trick that airlines do not want you to know about.

You can earn airline miles WITHOUT flying. And it doesn't even require you to use the airline's co-branded credit card.

A one-airline strategy works for some people. For instance, if you live in a rural area with limited airline choices.

But for the vast majority, it's not ideal.

Instead, with the right credit card, you can earn points with your everyday spending and convert them to miles to fly on the airline that works for you. We'll explain why this is the better route for most people.

Plus, you can skyrocket your mileage balance by taking advantage of the right credit card promotion.

Travel Transfer Partners

Some credit cards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred allow you to transfer points to a participating airline's frequent flyer program.

Which airline do you plan to use the most? Here are the corresponding credit cards you should not ignore.

$95 Annual Fee, But Here's Why It Is Worth Considering

Our favorite travel-friendly credit card is Chase Sapphire Preferred. It has a huge bonus point offer and premium travel benefits.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This card lets you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.

Points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has a $0 foreign transaction fee. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

Chase Sapphire Preferred's airline transfer partners include Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue, British Airways (oneworld), Air France (SkyTeam), Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance), and Virgin Atlantic.

Chase Sapphire Preferred's hotel transfer partners include Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and The Ritz-Carlton. Marriott operates 30 brands including Renaissance, Residence Inn, and Courtyard.

If you want to fly American, you can use British Airways to book a partner flight on American Airlines (and other oneworld alliance partners).

If you want to fly Delta, you can use Air France to book a partner flight on Delta Airlines (and other SkyTeam alliance partners).

If you prefer to convert points to American Airlines (AA) or Delta, take a look at Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card, which allows you to transfer points to AA or Delta.

Tip: Chase Sapphire Preferred has one of the best signup bonus promotions we've seen on CreditDonkey. Combined with the $0 intro annual fee for the first year (then $95 after that), it's easy to understand why it's so popular among people with excellent credit.

This card is not for everyone. Because the rewards and benefits are so great, the application process is very selective. You'll need excellent/good credit to qualify.

To learn more, click here to visit Chase's secure website. You'll find the online application and details on the 50,000 bonus point promotion. Remember, banks change their promotional offers all the time, so if you have great credit, now is the time to apply.

Do you own a business? Ink Business Preferred lets you earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 80,000 points is worth $1,000 toward travel when you redeem via Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is a $95 annual fee.

AMEX Membership Rewards

Do you spend over $334 per month on your credit card?

If you use your credit card daily, consider the Amex EveryDay credit card from American Express, a CreditDonkey partner.

Amex EveryDay offers 10,000 Membership Rewards® points if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your new card account. Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%. There is $0 balance transfer fee. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening.

This card earns 2x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1x) and 1x points on other purchases. If you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period, you will earn 20% more points on those purchases (less returns and credits). There is no annual fee. Terms apply.

AMEX Membership Rewards transfer partners include Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles), Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Alitalia, and All Nippon Airways.

If an annual fee does not scare you, look at the Platinum Card and the American Express Gold Card.

 The Platinum Card from American ExpressAmerican Express Gold Card
 Apply NowApply Now
 

Fees

Annual Fee$550 annual fee$250 annual fee
Terms Apply. See Rates & FeesTerms Apply. See Rates & Fees
 

Benefits and Features

Introductory Bonus Reward PointsIntroductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 3 months.
Airline StatusAirline Status: $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline. Terms Apply.
Access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select.
Airline Status: $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per year for incidental fees at one selected airline.
Hotel StatusHotel Status: Enroll for complimentary SPG Gold Status (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Preferred Guest).
Enroll for complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status.

Fine Hotels & Resorts - book your stay through American Express FHR at one of 600 luxury hotels and you may get a room upgrade upon arrival, daily continental breakfast for 2, guaranteed 4pm late checkout and a special amenity unique to each property. Terms Apply.
 
Airline RewardsAirline Rewards: 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.Airline Rewards: Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Point RewardsPoint Rewards: Earn 1 point for virtually every dollar spent.Point Rewards: Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
 Apply NowApply Now

Did you know: The Platinum Card offers Airport Club Access to five airport lounge networks, including: Delta Sky Club lounges, Centurion Lounge, and Priority Pass Select. Priority Pass Select alone includes access to over 950 participating airport lounges worldwide. But is the card worth the $550 annual fee? Read our in-depth AMEX Platinum review for our thoughts.

Bottom Line

The trick to traveling more is to be smart about how you earn airline miles.

Don't restrict yourself to earning miles just by flying or using the airline's co-branded credit card.

Take advantage of credit card airline transfer partners to rack up more miles toward free flights and upgrades.

Of course, airline miles are not for everybody.

  • If you have credit card debt, consider a low interest credit card instead. Most rewards credit cards have high interest rates, which is fine if you pay off your balance in full each month. But if you are in debt, the last thing you should think about is traveling and taking vacations while incurring high interest rates.

  • If you don't have good credit, consider a credit card for people with fair credit or no credit. While they do not usually offer travel rewards or perks, they can help build your credit history if you use them responsibly - which really helps you out in the long run.

  • If you don't want to use airline miles but still want to travel, take a look at general travel rewards credit cards such as Capital One Venture, which earns 2x miles on all purchases. However, their "miles" cannot be transferred to airline transfer partners. Think of them more like points that you can redeem them for travel statement credits toward eligible travel purchases.

Credit card offers, redemption options and values can change at any time. If you have great credit, now is the time to apply.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

Keep in mind: taxes, fees and surcharges may apply. Terms and limitations apply.

Charles Tran is the founder of CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Charles Tran at charles@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped travelers make savvy decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.